Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Okay, As Long As They're Not Earmarks

You know what killed the 2010 budget, don't you? Republican objections to earmarks. The omnibus bill was full of 'em! Many of them put into the budget by the Republicans who objected. Anyway, they're going to to take another crack at it in February, and there won't be any Republican earmarks in it! Why? Because!

Though Mr. Kirk and other Republicans thundered against pork-barrel spending and lawmakers’ practice of designating money for special projects through earmarks, they have not shied from using a less-well-known process called lettermarking to try to direct money to projects in their home districts.

Mr. Kirk, for example, sent a letter to the Department of Education dated Sept. 10, 2009, asking it to release money “needed to support students and educational programs” in a local school district. The letter was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the group Citizens Against Government Waste, which shared it with The New York Times.

The district, Woodland School District 50, said it later received about $1.1 million in stimulus money.
See, it's not the spending of federal dollars that they object to. It's the PROCEDURE. Instead of Congress approving the spending, Congress want to put it up to unelected bureau heads. That way, less accountability all around. And probably a little more corruption. Especially where the real money is, the Department of Defense. But how does it work, exactly?
Lettermarking, which takes place outside the Congressional appropriations process, is one of the many ways that legislators who support a ban on earmarks try to direct money back home.

In phonemarking, a lawmaker calls an agency to request financing for a project. More indirectly, members of Congress make use of what are known as soft earmarks, which involve making suggestions about where money should be directed, instead of explicitly instructing agencies to finance a project. Members also push for increases in financing of certain accounts in a federal agency’s budget and then forcefully request that the agency spend the money on the members’ pet project.

Because all these methods sidestep the regular legislative process, the number of times they are used and the money involved are even harder to track than with regular earmarks.
Given the ease of tracking, no wonder Congress is up in arms about earmarks! Especially considering how many of those Teabaggers are armed.

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